The Lego Movie isn’t an anti-capitalist or anti-consumerist or any sort of anti-anything-themed movie. Sure, I wasn’t totally wrong when I wrote: The Lego Movie, a 90-minute ad for The Lego Group. Shamelessly, it’s a full-blown ad for the toy. Nevertheless, it’s also an ad for life, the type of life major corporate heads would love to have come back in fashion, especially since all these free-thinking, gig-economy Millennials are [presumably] threatening the corporate way of life [but not really, but shhhh, don’t tell them]. If anything, the flick is not only attempting to reinstate this sense of “everybody’s special just because you’re you” mentality in a subliminal way that I had not really picked up on until after my fourth viewing of the thing. I’ll be honest; I was not a fan of the movie’s themes the first time I watched it. Obviously, the thing, on the surface, is an adorable, lighthearted, fun-filled adventure film aimed mostly toward children, and so, I loved the movie as a movie. Plus, how amazing does it look? The movie, in fact, is done so well that the thing is actually really entertaining for adults. That line, that balance, I, as not a film maker nor any sort of educated viewer of film, imagine, is hard to walk, successfully or otherwise. The thing I despised during the first viewing was the whole idea about how everyone’s special, even you. I couldn’t really get past that idea being at the core of the film. I mean, seriously, haven’t we heard this enough already? Everyone’s special in their own unique way, blah, blah, barf, barf. It just simply isn’t true.
Or is it?
Then, I watched the thing again for the first time in over a year and then immediately the next day, again, and the resolution I stumbled upon yesterday was that the movie was actually reiterating and reinforcing this idea about how being ordinary, like Emmet, IS quite extraordinary. Duh, I already said that. But wait! Who or what kind of person directly benefits from this type of message? The ordinary Emmet’s out there? Of course not, despite the fact that the flick cloaks itself in this supposedly positive message. I mean, it does benefit the Emmets in a sense that now regular old normies can feel good about themselves, but that’s not really the point. Instead, a darker more sinister and brain-washing-type message creeps unseen and mostly unnoticed throughout the entire film. Think about it, the kid within whose imagination the entire story unfolds is just that, a kid. So this idea about everyone being special is a childish idea. Sure, the kid seems to change the mind of his dad/President Business, but the reality is that the only thing about which the kid changed his dad’s mind was that maybe the dad shouldn’t be so rigid in his outlook toward how Lego is both figuratively and literally plastic. The kid teaches the dad that there are many ways to play and interact with Lego. This, of course, gets translated into Emmet’s world as a take down of The Man, but in the “real world” that is not what has happened.
The point seems to be that the Emmets of the Lego world are extraordinarily important because they are the ordinary people who work as the cogs in the machine upon which all truly exceptional people depend. The whole movie ends up being a large metaphor for the metaphor itself. The kid in the “real world” changed his dad’s mind; it’s true, but the theme is played out in the Lego world in an entirely unrelated way to what actually happened in the “real world.” But then, the reality of the Lego world sheds light back onto the “real world” within which the kid exists. It’s like the kid is creating this feedback loop of willing servitude to a higher power that the kid believes has been tamed, a higher power of which the kid has been seemingly freed. But again, the kid is a kid so whatever sort of message or idea the kid takes away from the whole saga is, as aforementioned, childish. The kid doesn’t understand the overarching theme because the kid himself is trapped within it along with Emmet and all the other Lego characters.
So yea, of course a massive corporation would fund and fuel a movie with a message that says something like, “Hey, you’re ordinary; you’re nothing special, but that’s okay! The world needs people just like you because you think differently from all those truly extraordinary people who can’t work together, who can’t think inside the box. All those rich people, famous people, smart people, they’re crazy. You’re normal. See! Look how normal you are!, and that’s exactly what makes you special in a world full of weird, special people. We, special people, need YOU to be exactly you because we, special people, can’t be special without YOU! You are the fuel, the gears and the grease doing all the great work we, special people, simply cannot [will not] do! Great job! Keep up the good work!”